The Daily Grind: Chemex
The Chemex is a beautifully designed piece of art that also allows you to brew a great cup of coffee. Invented in 1941, the Chemex is a staple in many coffee shops and on counters in our kitchens, as well as a place in the MOMA permanent design collection. A personal favorite, a Chemex lets you have full control over the brewing method; you are doing all of the pouring right over the ground coffee so there are a lot of variants that go into the brew. You have to make sure you have the right water to coffee ratio for your specific Chemex size, your coffee is ground to the right size, your temperature of water is correct, and the amount of time pouring the water is right, as well. Follow these directions and you’ll get great results from your Chemex every time!
The golden ratio when brewing coffee in any brewer is 1:15 coffee to water. This will give you the best tasting coffee without it feeling too strong or watered down. There are four different sized Chemex’s: The Three Cup, the Six Cup, the Eight Cup, and the Ten Cup. The Six Cup option is the most common so we will work with those numbers, however, all you would have to do to figure out the ratio for any of the others is follow the 1:15 rule for that size. The Six Cup Chemex has a capacity of 30 ounces of water, so we will use 2 ounces of coffee grinds.
Every brewing method calls for different grind sizes of your coffee beans. For a Chemex you want the coffee grinds to be medium-coarse, which resembles the size of kosher salt. If you are still buying your coffee pre-ground, check out our past blog on why you should start buying whole bean coffee and grinding just before brewing!
The best temperature for water when brewing coffee is just off boil. Some advanced electric kettles allow for temperature control; if you have control, set your temperature for somewhere between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are using a stove top kettle or an electric kettle that does not allow for temperature control just bring your water to a boil and take off heat for about a minute. This will allow the temperature of the water to come down to the perfect heat.
Now that you’ve done all the hard work prepping, it’s finally time to start brewing! Before you get started by putting the coffee grinds in the Chemex filter, you have to pep and preheat the Chemex. Take your Chemex filter and put it in, single fold away from the spout and multiple folds towards the spout. Pour your hot water through the filter to take away any paper taste, preheat the Chemex, and create a seal along the sides of the filter.
Now, with the filter still in the chemex just pour out that water and add your 2 oz. of coffee grinds. With your water at the correct temperature, pour in just enough to wet the beans; this will allow for the coffee to bloom, which means the coffee releases all of the gas that it stores. It will taste much better if you let it bloom first as opposed to if you pour all of your water in at one time. You can stir the grounds and this water to make sure all of your coffee has contacted the water and let it sit for 30 seconds.
After you wait, start the second pour and use a slow spiral motion to gently agitate the coffee. Keep doing this until the water gets about half an inch from the top. Wait about a minute after that to start the third and final pour. Using the same slow spiral motion, fill the filter to the top and let sit to fully brew; the total time should take about 4 minutes.
Finally, take out the filter when its completely done brewing, swirl the coffee inside the Chemex and serve! Enjoy your hot cup of perfectly brewed Chemex coffee!